Mud Chic

Mud Chic

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In Xhosa culture the headman and elders of a tribe hold the key to all knowledge. In this compelling visual journey to the traditional dwellings and homesteads of the old Transkei, photographer Craig Fraser has elevated these rural abodes to a similar status. For the design, layout and materials used in these humble homes reveal much more than mere structure. They reveal that dire poverty does little to dampen the irrepressible human impulse to adorn and beautify. Here the realities of daily life are manifest in no running water (some journey five times a day to collect water), no electricity and scant employment. And yet using little more than materials found in nature or sourced from the surrounding environment, the personality of each homeowner is expressed in a rich, elaborate vocabulary of symbols, geometric patterns, color and decorative detail that is uniquely individual to each. Collectively these homes reveal the nature of society that lives according to the deep-seated values of a fast-vanishing way of life. Here life is lived in tune with nature and in cognizance of community. Here your worth-and your lifestyle-is measured by your number of cattle. Here the woman's place is at the wood pile and the man's is at the kraal. Here the headman decides where everyone lives and the ancestors dictate that one may never leave. It is here in every inch of a traditional rural dwelling that we find the ideological and decorative footprint of Xhosa culture.In Xhosa culture the headman and elders of a tribe hold the key to all knowledge.

Title:Mud Chic
Author: Sindiwe Magona
Publisher:Quivertree Publications - 2006

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